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News and Media

News and Media

By Founder and President Kurt Lieber

While it might seem like not a whole lot has been going on with ODA for the last month, it’s been really busy behind the scenes.

Now that I’ve had my second shot of the Covid-19 vaccine, I’ve started making plans to get back to Hawai’i and reactivate some of our ocean cleaning projects.

I’ll have more to share with you soon, but I first contacted the Honokohau Harbor Master to coordinate a date that we can resume removing marine debris from inside the harbor.  Keep in mind we haven’t been able to do a cleanup since I was last there in January of 2020.  Sheesh.  That was 15 months ago! Never fear, harbor ocean life, we’re coming back to continue cleaning your habitat! :-)

Harbor cleanup Big Island

Since that time, a new Harbor Master has been employed to manage the Honokohau Harbor.  He and I reviewed how the cleanups usually go and determined that our old permit is still valid.  Thankfully, no fresh paperwork needs to be filed by us. 

Next, I talked with our friends/partners at Jack’s Diving Locker, and we’ve set May 22nd as our harbor cleanup day.  Can’t wait to get back there and see our friends: Teri, Jeff, Sarah, Matt, and Kaitlin! If you live nearby and want to help, we need both scuba divers and people to stay on the docks to help haul debris out. Please reach out to us at

Matt with ghost netMatt Bogdanovitch is a dive instructor and boat captain at Jack’s.  He operates one of their dive boats that caters to vacationing scuba divers.  Matt just sent me some pictures of a mess of net that he pulled out of the waters just off the Kona coast yesterday, April 11th

Nice haul Matt!  Sure is nice knowing that that mess o’ nets won’t be getting snagged on any coral.

Back to the mainland…

As you may know, ODA has been removing ghost gear from the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary (CINMS) for years now.  We got our first permit, which is required, to work in those beautiful waters in 2014. 

CINMS, which is off the coast of California’s Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, protects 1,470 square miles of ocean waters around the Northern Channel Islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel islands. 

A few years agoHere we were in few years ago at Frenchy's Cove in CINMS releasing trapped sheep crabs!

I had to let our CINMS permit expire due to a contract we signed with the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) which stipulated that we could not take our vessel out of the Los Angeles and Orange County area.

That AQMD contract has expired now, and so I submitted another permit request to the good folks at CINMS, and we were approved just last week.  Now we can get back to our old stomping grounds and remove ghost gear from these very special and unique islands.  Yahoo!!

Special equipment for debris removal

While this has all been going on, we’ve been busy purchasing and testing some equipment that’s going to make locating abandoned traps a LOT easier.  A few weeks ago, we bought a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV), which you can read about here.  And last weekend, April 4th, we tested a Side Scan Sonar unit that we were able to rent so we’d have the opportunity to see how it works before we buy it.

Side Scan Sonar is used by rescue and salvage companies to help them identify underwater objects from the safety of a boat. With this equipment there is no need to send divers down to look for the items they’re searching for.  Having this capability, will make us much more efficient in finding locations submerged ocean debris for our divers to descend on and remove.

Veteran ODA volunteer crewmembers Kim Cardenas, Jeff Connor, Al Laubenstein, and Geoff Walsh jumped on our boat the LegaSea and we motored a few miles outside of Los Angeles Harbor to the site of a sunken vessel to test this rented gadget.

Crew working on devices

As you can imagine, it’s a really sensitive device, and training is going to be ongoing.  It took us a few passes over the wreck site before things started to come into view on our computer screen.  The more we got accustomed to using it, the better the images became.

Al deploying the Side Scan SonarAl deploying the Side Scan Sonar

We concluded that it will help us locate and recover ghost gear – whether it be abandoned fishing nets, lines, traps, or submerged debris of other kinds. We went ahead and purchased a new SSS and are excited to start using it when we receive it in about six weeks.

So, hang on folks, things are about to get really exciting!

If you want “in” on the fun and satisfaction of removing harmful ocean debris, you can be part of it by donating to keep our boat’s tank full of gas. Please visit our donation page and know that you are much appreciated!

Donate Now!